Attracting about 600,000 pilgrims every year, mainly during major festivals like Janmashtami, Holi and Radhashtami, Vrindavan is noted for its numerous temples, both old and new, big and small, totaling up to 5000.
However there are seven main temples which are not only the most famous but also the oldest.These were established by the Six Goswamis (six prominent disciples of Lord Chaitanya, 16th century incarnation of Lord Krishna who appeared in West Bengal) and their contemporaries. They are:
This 60 foot high temple was opened in 1580 on a 50 foot hill called Dvadasaditya Tila, next to the Yamuna. Built by Ram Das Kapur at the request of Sanatana Goswami this was the first temple to be built in Vrindavan, which at that time was just a forest. The deity of Krishna (Madana Mohana) was discovered by Sanatana Goswami. Worshiped along with Madana Mohana are Radharani and Lalita Sakhi.
Established in 1542 by Jiva Goswami this temple is located at Seva Kunj. The founder acharya of International society for Krishna Consciousness, Srila Prabhupada, spent his time here meditating on his mission and doing bhajans before establishing the society.
- 3) Sri Sri Radha Syamasundara Temple –
This is one of the most important temples for Gaudiya Vaishnavas. Established by Sri Syamananda Pandit the deity itself was gifted to him by Srimati Radharani, the consort of Lord Krishna, who had manifested it from her heart.
- 4) Sri Sri Radha Ramana Temple–
Constructed at the request of Gopala Bhatta Goswami in the sixteenth century, Radha Raman temple is one of the most exquisitely crafted and revered temples of Vrindavan “Radha Ramana” means “one who gives pleasure to Radha”, and Radha Ramana is one of the few original deities still left in Vrindavan. The fires for cooking in the temple kitchen have been burning continuously since the Deity was installed over 460 years ago and the cooking still follows cookbooks from that time.
A few minutes’ walk from Vrinda Kunda is Sri Radha Govindaji temple, built by Maharaja Man Singh and a general from the army of King Akbar. Maharaja Man Singh was a disciple of Raghunath Bhatta Goswami. The temple was a grand seven-story structure, with an altar of marble, silver and gold. Architecturally this temple is one of the finest in North India. A sculptured lotus flower weighing several tons decorates the main hall ceiling. It was said to have cost ten million rupees, and several thousand men were working for five full years to complete it. Akbar himself had donated the red sandstone for its construction. In 1670, during the rule of a later Mughal king, Aurangzeb, it was plundered and destroyed leaving only three stories of the original temple. During this attack, when few stories remained, all of a sudden the ground began to shake violently and Aurangzeb’s men were terrified and ran for their lives, never to return. A replica of Govindaji is worshiped in the new Govindaji Mandir (located behind the original temple). The original Govindaji is worshiped in Jaipur.
“Govinda Dev Mandir is the most spectacular work of devotional art that the eyes can behold“ – Radhanath Swami
- 6) Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda Temple –
Built by Visvanath Cakravarti, a vaisnava scholar and poet, the temple houses the deity of Sri Radha Vinod worshiped by Lokanath Goswami (one of the contemporaries of the Six Goswamis), a Govardhana shila gifted by Lord Chaitanya to Raghunath Dasa Gosvami, the deity of Sri Vijaya Govinda worshiped by Baladeva Vidyabhusana, and a stone with the thumbprint of Lord Chaitanya.
- 7) Sri Sri Radha Gopinatha Temple –
This temple is a few minutes’ walk from Govindaji’s temple, was founded by Madhu Pandit Goswami, and its marvelous construction reveals a glorious past. Gopinatha, the presiding deity was first installed 5,000 years ago by Vajranabha, Lord Krishna’s grandson, and rediscovered at Vamsi-vata by Paramananda Goswami.